Here at the CN&R, we regularly highlight the work of local creative types in our Arts & Culture section. This week, we're focusing in on some local visual artists. CN&R photography intern Brittany Waterstradt recently met with more than a dozen local art-makers, taking their portraits and talking with them about their creative process. We've curated the best of the work here for this photo essay.
Zoë Hungate, of Aurum & Ink, sketches in pencil an uncommissioned original piece, which will be finalized in ink. “I find going out into nature is not only mentally and physically calming, but also a huge inspirational force,” Hungate says. “Over the years, I’ve learned to wrangle my ideas in and mentally organize them before starting on a drawing. Once I commit to an idea, I try to keep my process simple. I believe in balancing basic direction and a clear vision with focused spontaneity.”
Longtime Chico ceramicist Jacob Troester, pictured working on a vase, says he most enjoys creating functional pieces. “To really find what looks and feels right, I use what I make daily,” he says. “Maybe there’s a plate that’s the ideal size for an American breakfast, and it’s got perfectly sloped walls that I can scoop my food against. I’ve fallen in love with this plate and seek it out every time. You form a special relationship with dishware and I love to give my work to people so that they might form that connection. Making things and sending them out into other people’s personal space gives me a small but important sense of purpose.”
Chico mosaic artist Robin Indar, of Indar Mosaics, has been commissioned in and out of town for pieces big and small, including the Jackson Pollock art bench downtown and the serpent at Caper Acres. “I get my inspiration from a lot of different things. For instance, I’m going to be doing some art at the Chico [State] bridge that was destroyed by a tree. My first thing was to walk the grounds where the bridge is, and look at what’s around there and what it feels like. I saw a squirrel, I saw a butterfly, and so those were immediately potential design elements,” Indar says.
Pressman Rik Pape, of Wild Ink Press, brings artists’ works to life by carrying out the technical aspects of taking their designs to paper using antique printing presses, including an Original Heidelberg. “I’m trying to get as close to perfection as possible,” he says. “Our designer has the picture in her head, and her taste is impeccable. I can’t go in her head, but she can draw it and she can give me colors and what I want to do is get as close to the color in her head as possible. … When someone picks up a card, even someone who doesn’t know what letterpress is, I want for them to go, ‘There’s something different about this. There’s something special about this.’”
Collage artist Rosalina Acevedo uses her main artist’s tool, an X-Acto knife, to cut out an element for one of her elaborate pieces. She sources her materials from discarded books and other media. “I don’t really have a structured way of doing it,” she says. “Maybe I’m thinking about a person, or an event, or maybe I just go off of the pictures I have. It’s very therapeutic. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing it without even knowing that I’m doing it. I like a lot of science and botany books and floral books. I’m open to anything, as long as it was printed before 1978.”
Jeff Lindsay, of Red Hot Metal Inc., works on a light commissioned by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a longtime client of his metalwork. “We have a line of tools for glassblowing that you can order off the Internet. We’ve been making them for years,” he says of his business. “The other part of the company is one-of-a-kind, one-off projects. We do lots of stuff for the [Sierra Nevada] brewery. I like the steampunk kind of vein. You just try different things.”
Emeline Hand, 18, paints a classroom door at Inspire School of Arts and Sciences, where she is a senior. Her work is part of a larger project, involving several other students also working on door murals. “We start by interviewing the teacher and seeing what they like or don’t like, and then we make a rough sketch. We show them the design, and then they give us feedback. Then we put it together in another design and put blocked colors onto it. After we block colors, we show them again, and give them a couple different examples and they pick one. Then we start painting,” Hand explains.